When is the best time to take a TEFL course?
Some months are more popular than others to take a TEFL course in Thailand, but there are benefits to each of the 12 months UniTEFL runs a course. It depends what your motives are. Aside from September and April there are other months that are a good choice.
When are the School Semesters in Thailand?
In Thailand and much of Southeast Asia the school year begins in May, with a recess in September before the next semester commences. School is out during March and April. Naturally the month immediately preceding these term starts are when the hiring takes place and so they’re popular times to take a course with us. The April and September courses are often fully booked. This year the October course was also busy.
However, these are not optimum times if you are new. It can take up to eight weeks to land the right job, so it’s a bit of a rush to finish a course and then start putting your CV out weeks before the term starts, you’ll be getting the second rate jobs. Hiring goes on all year round, and lately there’s been a shortage of suitable teachers so that positions are still being filled several months into the new semester. Language schools hiring all year round.
The busiest time for TEFL schools is between December and February when everyone decides to escape the cold weather and come to Thailand. It’s when the weather is also at its best here, but you won’t be enjoying it much since you’ll be in the classroom. During June and July training groups are smaller since its rainy season here and many wannabe teachers are enjoy their summers back home.
In Chiang Mai the climate is somewhat different from the rest of the country. The rainy season (June to October) is very pleasant, everything is green and it cools down considerably. It’s also free of tourists and more affordable. December the weather is perfect, similar to an Indian Summer day in Europe. March is an unfortunate time in Chiang Mai since the farmers burn their fields resulting in smog, but you’ll be in the air conditioned classroom most the time anyway. It’s actually an optimal month to get TEFL trained so that you hit the job market a month before the rest.
If you do have a set plan to come to Asia during the Northern winter we advise you to book early. It’s a good idea to take the November or January or February course and then go do your travelling, so that you have your CV out early for the April hiring season. Besides, there’s no harm doing a few months temporary teaching in a language school to get some vital experience ahead of your interviews. This also applies to the low months in the middle of the year and we highly advise this.
Everyone likes to be in Chiang Mai in December and course groups can be too large, the same goes for April and September. On this note it’s important to consider the size of the classes. We seldom put more than 15 on a course, whereas some of the other TEFL courses in town are routinely training 18 under one tutor, and it can get up to two or three dozen squeezed into one class. Definitely not what you want when getting trained to teach.
Another consideration is the festivals. The water festival of Songkran is particularly fun in Chiang Mai and we take three days out from the course to join in, so that’s a good reason to come in March or April (the festival dates are usually April 12-15). The other popular event is Loi Kratong, an enchanting festival of light in mid November.
Considerations for Job Hunting
So, there is no best or worst time to sign up. In fact you are more likely to get a discount if you plan to come in the quiet months and get more dedicated training. If you don’t expect to land, train, then walk into a job then you are far better placed in the long run. You should think of taking the course at a time that gives you ample time to get some experience, or do your travelling, before the hiring season starts